A Chinese consortium identifying itself only as “Intellectually Manufactured in China” is in talks to buy 95 percent of Malaga Club de Futbol, a Spanish La Liga soccer club, from owner Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani. Five percent of the shares will be left to smaller stake holders, including retired soccer player Fernando Hierro of Real Madrid.
The prospective buyers choose to remain anonymous and hold negotiations in secrecy, although Magala management has confirmed that the deal is underway and is expected to be completed early this summer.
Within the next three years, the new owners plan to build a world class sports complex in Malaga. The complex will serve as a training facility for Chinese coaches, and Chinese players will be invited there to play on both the senior and youth teams. The purchase will benefit Chinese soccer by improving training and talent retention, according to Xinhua.
The deal may also give Malaga’s team the push it needs. Malaga is currently ranked eighth of 20 in its league, and its highest-paid player only earns $1.1 million a year compared to the $76 million salary of the league’s highest earner. But back in February the team did manage to beat Barcelona, the top-ranked team in La Liga, and is now only seven points away from qualifying to compete in the Europa League.
Various other Chinese consortiums are also in talks to buy clubs in Italy, England, France, and the Netherlands. In January, Dalian Wanda Group agreed to buy a 20 percent stake in Spain’s Atletico Madrid club. These moves should similarly help stimulate China’s soccer scene, which is increasingly an investment focus after recent reforms have begun rooting out corruption in the industry.